Background: In most European countries the ethnic minority migrant populations are currently reaching an age where dementia becomes an increasingly important issue. There is no European consensus on good clinical practice with these patient groups, who often have special needs and expectations with regard to dementia services.
Methods: A survey was conducted in clinical dementia centers in 15 European countries. Questionnaires focusing on different points in the clinical assessment of dementia in ethnic minority patients were mailed to leading dementia experts of the European Alzheimer's Disease Consortium.
Results: Thirty-six centers from 15 countries responded to the survey. Ethnic minority patients were seen on a regular basis in 69% of these centers. The diagnostic evaluation was in accordance with evidence-based clinical guidelines in 84–100% of the centers, but most centers performed cognitive assessment with instruments that are only validated in Western cultures and frequently relied on family members for interpretation. Diagnostic evaluation of the patients was considered to be challenging in 64% of the centers, mainly because of communication problems and lack of adequate assessment tools. In general, there were few indicators of culturally sensitive dementia services in the centers.
Conclusions: Ethnic minority patients are seen on a regular basis in European dementia clinics. Assessment of such patients is difficult for a number of reasons. Results from this study show that the most challenging issues are communication problems and assessment of cognitive function where there is a need to develop specific tests for ethnic minority patients.